Can My Children Get Benefits if I am Disabled?

If you are physically or mentally disabled, one of your primary reasons for claiming Social Security Disability benefits may be to continue to support your children and your family while you cannot work.  Social Security is able to provide benefits not only for the disabled applicant but also for their children.  In many cases, disability may also provide benefits for a disabled child if you are not using your disability benefits.  The Pennsylvania Social Security Disability lawyers at Young, Marr, and Associates explain:

Children and Disability Benefits in Pennsylvania

If you are claiming disability in your own right, you typically do so under one of two systems.  With Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), you use your work credits to support your claims.  This means that your years of work and paying FICA taxes has supported the Social Security Administration (SSA), which entitles you to claim disability benefits if you become injured.  The alternate system is Supplemental Security Income (SSI), which is need-based.  This is available even if you do not have a sufficient work history that could support SSDI, but your income is so low that you need assistance to deal with your disability.

Your SSI benefit is paid through tax revenues and is only available if you do not have enough work credits to qualify for SSDI. If you are a parent receiving SSI, only you are entitled to the benefits. While your children might be eligible for benefits in other ways, they will not be permitted to receive benefits through your SSI.

If you are receiving disability benefits, these benefits can help your whole family.  There is no limitation on how you use your disability benefits, meaning there are no requirements that they be used for housing, food, or medical procedures.  That means that the general benefits can help provide for your entire family.

In addition, your spouse and children may qualify for benefits based on your record.  If you apply through SSDI, the work-based system, then your spouse and children could be eligible to receive 50% to 80% of your benefits.  That means that, on top of the benefits you receive, you could receive half that amount again for your spouse or child. For purposes of disability benefits, Social Security defines the children of a disabled individual as their biological children, adopted children, or dependent stepchildren.

If your children are under 16, your spouse automatically qualifies to receive benefits on your record to help support your children.  However, your spouse may be required to draw on their own benefits first if they have a sufficient work history to support SSDI.  If they do not, then they can qualify through your work history.

Children can also receive benefits if they are under 18 and are not married.  Usually these benefits end when the child turns 18 or gets married.  However, these benefits can continue after they turn 18 if they are still in high school.  If they turn 19 while they are still in school, they can continue to receive benefits for 2 months before the SSA will end the benefits.  Each qualifying child can receive their own payments – but there is a total cap on family benefits of 150-180% of your benefits.

Children Qualifying for Benefits Under Their Parents SSDI

If your disability qualifies for SSDI, then your children are also entitled to receive benefits. However, in order to qualify for benefits, your children must meet a few requirements.

First, only your biological or adopted children are eligible for benefits under your disability. Dependent stepchildren are also eligible under your benefits.

Next, your children must be under the age of 18 and unmarried. There is an exception for children still in high school. However, there is a limitation to this exception. Once your child turns 19, they are no longer eligible for benefits – even if they are still in school.

Your child must have a Social Security number. You cannot apply for benefits for a child without a valid Social Security number. Before applying for SSDI benefits, you must obtain a Social Security number on your child’s behalf.

How Child Disability Benefits Work

Whether you are personally disabled or not, your disabled children may also qualify for disability benefits on your record.  As mentioned, children under 18 may get benefits through their disabled parent’s record.  Alternatively, children can also receive benefits for their own disabilities, even without their own work history to support the payments.

Under this process, your disabled child is allowed to use your work history to qualify for their own benefits, rather than being required to claim the need-based SSI.  If they are under 18, they automatically qualify for benefits under your record.  In addition, disabled children with long-term disabilities can also receive ongoing benefits on their parent’s record to support them after they turn 18.

If your child was under 22 when they became disabled, they can continue to receive disability benefits on your record.  These benefits can continue even after they turn 18 or graduate high school.  In many cases, your child may need to continue relying upon these benefits into their adult life, or for the rest of their life.  To qualify for these benefits, the child must continue to fit the definition of disability, as required by the SSA for adult disability claims.  This includes having a qualifying disability or similar condition and meeting the definition of “severe.”

If your child gets married, they may be cut off from your benefits.  Whether they are personally disabled or not, no married child can receive their parent’s disability benefits.  It is expected that married people will either have their own work history to support SSDI payments, your child can file for SSI on their own, or their spouse’s work history will support them instead of their parents’.  Talk to a disability attorney today about receiving disability for your child.

Grandchildren and Social Security Benefits

In some cases, a child is being raised by a grandparent. If you are caring for a grandchild or a step-grandchild, they could be eligible for SSDI benefits much the same way as if they were your children.

However, there are a number of requirements that must be met. The biological parents must be either deceased or disabled. There is also a residence requirement. Your grandchild must have lived in your home for 12 months before they are eligible for SSDI benefits. If the child is under the age of 12 months, they must have lived with you for most of their life.

Additionally, you must provide at least half of the financial support necessary to care for the child. In cases of grandparent adoption, you are not required to meet any of the above requirements. Your grandchild would receive benefits under the same circumstances as a biological child.

Applying for Social Security Benefits for Your Child

You will need to gather specific information to apply for SSDI benefits for your child. First, you will need your Social Security number and your child’s Social Security number. Additionally, you will have to provide your child’s birth certificate. In the event your child does not have a Social Security number, you will have to obtain a number through Social Security before continuing with the application for benefits.

Depending on your situation, you might be required to produce additional documents or provide more information. For example, if your child is over the age of 18 and still in school, you will have to provide the Social Security Administration proof that your child is enrolled in school. Our knowledgeable Social Security attorney will work with you in determining exactly what documents are necessary considering your unique circumstances.

Will My Children Continue to Receive Social Security Benefits if I Die?

Your children are entitled to receive survivor benefits should you pass away. Survivor benefits typically are 75 percent of a deceased parent’s benefits. These benefits will continue until your child reaches the age of 18. If they are 19 and still in high school, then the benefits will continue for the additional year.

If your child became disabled before the age of 22, they could continue to receive benefits after your death as long as they remain disabled and never get married.

In the situation where a child was receiving benefits through their grandparent, the child can continue to receive 75 percent of their grandparent’s benefits if they met the required eligibility for SSDI benefits when their grandparent was alive.

SSI Benefits for Children

While your child is not eligible to receive benefits your SSI benefits, they might be eligible for SSI independently. As stated above, SSI is for disabled individuals who have a limited income and resources.

When determining income and resources for a disabled child, the Social Security Administration will consider the income and resources of other family members in the home with the child. For example, if your income is above the threshold for collecting SSI, your child will not be eligible. It is important to note that a child who does not live at home might still receive the benefit of income and resources from family members.

If a child meets the income requirements, they must still pass the medical eligibility requirements to receive SSI benefits.

First, a child must suffer from severe functional limitations. To qualify for benefits, the child’s disability must severely limit and impact their ability to function at the level of children their same age. Additionally, the child’s disability must have existed for the previous 12 months, is expected to last more than 12 months, or will likely result in the child’s death. Furthermore, to be eligible, your child must not be working or otherwise earning over $1,200 a month.

A child does not have to meet the same requirements as an adult. For example, your child will not be required to prove that they will not be able to return to work to be eligible for SSI.

The Social Security Administration will review the severity of your child’s limitation to determine whether they qualify for SSI benefits. In some cases, SSA will decide that your child’s limitation is not severe enough to continue with a determination of full disability. For example, if the basis of your claims a severe learning disability, but your child can perform at grade or a grade below level, SSA might not consider the limitation severe enough for benefits. Our Social Security attorneys will work with you and your child’s doctors to help establish the severity of their disability.

A Pennsylvania Attorney for Disability Benefits for Children Can Help

Applying for Social Security benefits is challenging. An error or omission will result in a denial of benefits. Our experienced Social Security Disability attorneys will help you avoid the common mistakes many people make and assist you in receiving the benefits you deserve. If you are disabled and want your children to receive benefits through your record, talk to an attorney today.  Whether your child is disabled or not, they may be eligible to receive additional benefits through your disability claims.  For a free consultation on your case, call Young, Marr, and Associates’ Philadelphia disability lawyers at (215) 701-6519 to reach our Pennsylvania offices.